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ANGOLA: Youth centres to fight AIDS

The first of four youth centres supported by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF)in Angola will be officially opened in the capital, Luanda, on Friday.

A UNICEF statement said the Viana Youth Centre had been designed as a place where young people could enjoy themselves and also receive information on responsible sexual practices and HIV prevention.

"As we open the doors to this youth centre, we turn to youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS," the statement quoted UNICEF Representative Mario Ferrari as saying.

The UNICEF-funded youth centre, to be opened by the minister for youth and sport, includes a basketball court, video and internet room, access to English and IT courses, and information on safe sexual practises and HIV. The centre will be managed by Angolan NGO, Cuidados da Infancia, with UNICEF's partner, Population Services International, hosting courses and running HIV seminars.

Only eight percent of Angolan women (aged 15 to 49) have adequate knowledge of HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention, and nearly one-third of all Angolan women have never heard of HIV/AIDS. In 1999, 19 percent of sex workers in Luanda tested HIV-positive. Two years later that number had jumped to 32.8 percent.

"While the numbers may sound fatalistic, they are not," said Ferrari. "We know how to defeat AIDS. We know all about voluntary counselling, we know about care at community level and, most importantly, we know about prevention, particularly in the key youth communities aged 15 to 24."

Theme (s): Children,

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